My absence of late has largely been due to an overwhelming insecurity (and let it be said envy of other mothering blogs), that my ramblings are both insignificant and tedious for those who actually follow my writing. But seeing as the only person for whom these entries will have a lasting impression is my daughter, I thought it apt that today I make a return to chronicle our rather harrowing morning.The past few months have been difficult for our little family. Nothing exciting, just what my own mother would probably describe as the “great tedium”. The Toolman is working hard and long, I’ve taken to helping him do a little bit of work from home, Bella is growing into a toddler, we’ve spent our weekends either working or fixing up our investment property for rental and money is, as it usually is, tight. Many families are in exactly the same position and I often just refer to this time as “our working years”. It’s normal to go for stretches of time like a rat on a wheel, reveling in the small patches of sunshine the day may bring; usually some delightful outburst from Bella.
Bella has taken to pushing a small pram around the house yelling “Beep Beep, Go Go Go!” at the top of her voice which has me in stitches for much of the day. I even find it endearing how she’s taken to calling me “Cow”. But in our day to day lives, I seem to have lost a sense of who I am in all of this.
Two days ago I woke up with a thorn in my side and cried for most of the day. When the Toolman returned from work and saw my puffy eyes, he looked worried, half squinted with his head cocked to the side and told me, “If you go down, this ship will sink”. It made me laugh but I realised it was true. This was no time for sinking ships.
You see, that day in question, I had been to our local Aquatic Centre to look at the facilities, the gym classes and the child minding room. I saw that I could leave Bella there for up to an hour and a half while I took a class. After touring the place, we were only half way home when the waterworks started (from me) and didn’t stop.
So often a mother and wife can simply become the support team for everyone else. This is the role I have chosen and logistically it’s one that makes sense, I have the ovaries after all and after I last checked, the Toolman cannot grow children, so it’s logical that I put my efforts into growing our family. But it also means I long, LONG, for time that is about me. Mothers around the globe will nod their head I am sure when I tell you the delight that can be had from getting in the car (alone) to buy some milk (alone) at the supermarket (alone). At this point anything (alone) looks good as the overwhelm of being with a child 24/7 for weeks on end clouds over.
Acknowledging that this is an actual need of mine and not seeing another way to regularly book a time for myself with family or friends, the gym seemed like the most viable option. The fact that I am willing to lift a barbell in a choreographed fitness class most probably run by a Paris Hilton lookalike should be testament to the aforementioned need.
Did I deserve this time every week to go to gym? Would she be ok? Is 18 months too young? What if she needed me, would they find me? Would they feed her? All of these questions could be easily answered but the glaringly obvious anxiety that I couldn’t overcome was, what if “something” happened to her? Luckily for me I have a shrink on speed dial (I’d encourage everyone to hook themselves up with one of these. They have to listen to your neuroses, you pay them)!
Knowing that I will never be able to definitively answer any of these question, she might not be ok and yes, “something” might happen but choosing to tolerate the anxiety anyway, I took Bella today for a short play in the gym playroom today. We stayed for a while together and then I told her I was leaving and that was it, no tantrums or crying, she was easily distracted by her most beloved book after waving goodbye.
I on the other hand ran from the room crying and there began a schizophrenic hour of spying, crying, walking back and forth in front of the windows, tissue in hand and even ended up crying so much that snot was dripping uncontrollably from my nose. In short, we’re talking snot candles. Got the picture? I heard the women that have gone before me in my head, in their unsympathetic voices saying, “oh, don’t be silly, she’ll be ok”. I’m aiming a little higher than ok I want to scream at them!
On my return, Bella was playing in the sandpit, saw me and laughed, and moved on to the slide. Was this normal? What sort of attachment style was she exhibiting? Damn that psychology degree. We read and few books then headed for home after waving goodbye to the staff.
So she was fine and I was not. Mother guilt, check. Neurosis, check. Undermining voice telling me that I would be judged by other mothers, check. I was starting to resent my mothering hormones that had reduced me to THIS. I just know that I have to try the gym again.
The popular notion that on ones deathbed, one never regrets the work they never got to, the car they never had or the clients they didn’t see but rather, the time they didn’t spend with their family got me thinking about my own choices in life.
Being a martyr without a break for an hour and a half a week to avoid judgment from other mothers who WON’T be at my bedside during my last days would be in exchange for a happier mother, raising a happier daughter who will, I hope, be there.
And for me, right now, that’s my better than ok.